lemon rhubarb cake (gluten-free + quick how-to videos)

Fun and simple, and the perfect amount of tart and sweet - and you'd never guess it's gluten-free! 

Fun and simple, and the perfect amount of tart and sweet - and you'd never guess it's gluten-free! 

I had to take Sundae to the vet today. Nothing serious (we hope), she just has a bladder infection, but my goodness ever since we moved up here to Utah, it seems like this poor pup gets bladder infections. This is her third one. Luckily we FINALLY found a kind, smart and understanding vet that doesn't charge up the bottom and I think she's gonna help us kick this silly thing. 

Speaking of bottoms, I totally held Myles' butt up to my face while the vet was talking to me to see if he had pooped. I didn't really realize what I had done until after I'd done it. Story of my life - me acting THEN thinking, but the vet smiled at me and kept talking as though I'd done nothing weird.

I also realized that I am totally that mom that I said I'd never be.... which is the slightly gross mom.

Example: I got a piece of cake with a new friend today at my new favorite bakery (Tulie) and I kept feeding pinches of my cake to Myles. Then when he'd spit out the pinches or not quite finish the bites, I'd just discretely wipe them off his face and eat them. Again, one of those instances where I didn't really realize what I was doing until I'd already done it.  Also, see aforementioned example of butt smelling.

Are you still with me? Or are you officially grossed out? 

Let's talk about tastier bottoms now. Like the bottom of this cake with its cleverly cut rhubarb. (see videos below) You sprinkle sugar at the bottom of the pan right before the rhubarb goes in and this little extra sugar balances out the tartness of the rhubarb - and since the sponge of the cake itself is tang-tastically lemony - you need just a tiny bit of that sugar at the bottom to make the party dance. 

Also. Cream. Whipped cream definitely makes me dance. Please note that I only artistically placed the whipped cream for the picture's sake. Really, I ate a slice of this completely lathered in cream. #itwasamazing 

This is a beautifully, easy cake that keeps well in the fridge for a week and makes an excellent on the fly breakfast. 

Love you friends. xo

lemon rhubarb cake (gluten-free)

adapted from Elisabeth Prueitt's Tartine All Day

I lose it when a gluten free recipe is so good you don’t even know it’s gluten free. Behold this cake. Fully adapted from the master pastry chef herself, Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine Bakery. (Whispers, I love you Elisabeth). This is one to keep forever my friends. AND. You don’t need to make it with rhubarb if you’re not into it or scared of it or whatever. The rhubarb adds a wonderful zip to the already tangy crumb but feel free to make this recipe sans rhubarb and it will still be the best lemony gluten free cake you’ve ever had. I said it. 

bakers note: You know how a huge pumpkin is really cool but then when that pumpkin gets turned into a golden carriage to take you to the ball it’s even cooler? That’s what whipped cream does to this cake.

another bakers note: It's really imperative that all of your ingredients are room temperature here. AND. Don't be putt off by this cake because of the ingredient list. Most are ingredients you probably have on hand anyway with maybe the exception of the flours. Good news is, if you have to purchase these flours in order to make the cake, they can last you a long time in the freezer. But trust me, you'll probably go through them fast because you're gonna want to make this cake a lot - it's that good and easy. 

5 stalks rhubarb
⅔ cup / 130g sugar, plus a scant ¼ cup / 50g sugar for sprinkling at the bottom of the pan
4 large eggs, room temperature, preferably pasture-raised
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup / 110g unsalted butter, at a very soft room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut flour
¼ cup / 60ml water, room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups / 360g almond flour, (I used 1 cup / 120g blanched almond flour and 2 cups / 240g almond meal)
¼ cup / 24g brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
 

Preheat the oven to 350° F / 180° C and grease a 10 in / 25cm cake pan with softened butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sprinkle a scant ¼ cup / 50g of sugar at the bottom of the pan and lay your cut and trimmed rhubarb to fit into the pan. *See videos here and below for a reference. 

With an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat together eggs, sugar and salt for 2-5 minutes until the mixture gets really light and fluffy and triples in size. You'll know its ready when you lift the whisk and satiny ribbons fall and leave a slight impression in the batter. 

In a large cereal size bowl, using a spoon, smash together the really soft butter and olive oil until incorporated. 

In a small bowl, mix the coconut flour and water together. Let it sit for just a sec until the coconut flour absorbs the water and gets thick, then add this to the butter + olive oil mixture. 

Add lemon zest + juice + vanilla into butter mixture. 

Whisk together almond + rice flour + baking powder in a bowl and then gently fold these dry ingredients into the fluffy egg + sugar mixture. This is the slightly tricky bit: Beat in only ¼ of the butter mixture. Then gently fold in the rest of the butter mixture with a spatula. 

Pour batter into prepared cake pan smoothing it evenly over the cut rhubarb. 

Bake until edges and top are a golden brown, about 30 minutes. If you stick a toothpick in it, some crumbs will stick to it, but the batter will not be wet at all. Let cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then flip it out onto a plate and let it cool for another 15 minutes or so before serving. Serve with lots fresh whipped cream. 

Cake keeps for a week wrapped in the fridge if it lasts that long. :) 

why is this good for me? 

rhubarb - is actually a vegetable, even though I treat it like a fruit! Rhubarb contains vitamin K, calcium and some vitamin C (but not a ton). Vitamin K has actually been known to protect against Alzheimers and used as a tool to help our blood clot (therefore it may help reduce your risk of having a stroke).  Look for deep red stalks as they contain more beta-carotene, which is code for higher antioxidants. ;) 

savory (gruyere-filled) french toast with raspberry preserves and a sweet giveaway!

Going out to breakfast sounds nice. Pre-child John and I used to go out to breakfast a lot. Now we don't. Myles is in the "grab everrrrrrything he sees" phase so it makes for a difficult eating time. This kid has the strongest grip. Even his doctor laughed out loud commenting on how strong he is. By the way he's crawling. Yes, ladies and gentleman I have a crawler at 7 months old. I mean, I know I'm bias but this little guy is really smart and a really fast learner. He loves to dance and sing with me and I swear this kid can already understand a beat. He is the happiest, most energetic baby.

It's rare, but when he's tired and not so wiggly, he burrows his head into my neck and just rests his head on my shoulder, and I just hold him with both arms and sway and my eyes leak because I just freaking love him so much. I wish I could save nuggets of time and replay them when he is grown. He is my greatest joy.

Speaking of joy, let's get back to breakfast and how you don't need to go out to breakfast this Mother's Day either. 

Because I have this for you: it's warm, gooey, gruyere cheese-filled French toast smothered in salted butter and beautiful raspberry preserves. I may or may not be salivating as I type this out.

With this French toast, we get both savory and sweet my indecisive friends, and it IS HEAVEN.

It's the perfect weekend breakfast.

It's the perfect breakfast to make your mom.

Or you.

Or a lady you love that means a lot to you.

Or yourself. You should treat yo-self.

Speaking of treat-yo self...

 I've partnered with Bonne Maman for this post and in honor of Mother's Day they are giving away a 12 piece Le Crueset cookware set. Bonne Maman is delicious and made from simple, wholesome ingredients that can be found in anyone’s pantry. You guys!! Go enter!! TWELVE PIECE SET! I mean you'll be set for life!! Lol!

May your weekend be filled with warm cheesy breakfasts and winning giveaways. Love you friends. 

Savory (Gruyere-filled) French toast with Raspberry Preserves

serves: 4 - Err kind of. John, my mom and I easily finished off this whole recipe by ourselves... 

Fitting for Mother's Day, my mom just happened to be in town when I made this. In fact we ate this so fast in the morning that we didn't have any left over for my sister to try later that day.... which was kind of embarrassing because we felt like we had zero self control eating an entire loaf of French toast filled with cheese between 3 people (me, my mom and John) but YOU GUYS. Please make this and just try holding back.

bakers note: Low heat is key for cooking these just right. It ensures that the cheese in the middle will melt. Also. Be mindful of your cream + milk + egg mixture. This bread-to-wet mixture ratio worked just perfectly for me, but depending on the size of your brioche or challah loaf, you may need a little more cream and eggs or you may need a little less. Just use your best judgement. It's French toast for Pete's sake, it's forgiving. :)

Savory (Gruyere-filled) French toast with Raspberry Preserves
½ cup / 115ml cream, preferably grass fed
½ cup / 115ml whole milk, preferably grass fed
3 eggs, preferably pasture raised, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf brioche or challah bread, sliced into 1 inch / 2.5cm slices (day-old bread works best)
salted butter for cooking and to serve
raspberry preserves to serve

 

Preheat your oven to 250°F / 120°C and put a wire cooling rack inside a sheet pan and place in the oven to get warm. This is the method I use to keep the French toast warm after it's been made. The wire wrack ensures that the toast will stay slightly crisp on the outside and not get soggy. 

In a medium sized, bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream and salt and pepper and set aside. You may want to transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl/container for easier, even dipping.

Use a serrated knife to slice your bread into 1 inch slices. Now go back and cut your bread slices in half - starting from the bottom of the bread and working your way up to the top but don't cut all the way through the top of the bread - leave the tops of your slices intact. Put a generous amount of shredded gruyere cheese in between the bread but avoiding the edges, like you're making a cheese sandwich. *See the picture of me lifting the bread revealing the cheese underneath as a reference. 

Lay out all of your dry,  cheese-filled slices on a sheet pan.

Quickly dip each slice into your cream + egg + milk mixture, flipping the bread carefully so each side soaks up some of the mixture, and the cheese still stays in the middle. Don't let your bread linger too long or it will get soggy. 

tip: I dipped all of my bread slices in the cream mixture all at once and then laid them on a sheet pan. This ensures that I can cook my french toast as I go, without worrying about dipping, cooking, dipping and cooking and making a mess. As soon as a piece of French toast is finished cooking, put it in the oven on your cooling rack + sheet pan set up and so it can stay warm. 

On a low heat, warm your skillet until butter starts to bubble but not brown. Cook each wet bread slice until golden brown, making sure that you "re-butter" the pan after each slice. I find that low heat works best for this because it allows the cheese to melt without overcooking the outside of the bread. 

This is the best part: Serve french toast warm with more salted butter and warmed raspberry preserves. Bonne Maman preserves is my jam, so I encourage you to get a jar to go with this recipe just because the tangy sweetness of the raspberry goes so stinking perfectly with the buttery brioche and the savory cheese. I'm still drooling about this breakfast. John, make this again for me will you? 

This post was sponsored by Bonne Maman but all opinions are my own. Thank you Bonne Maman for sponsoring this post! Did you know? Bonne Maman has no artificial coloring or preservatives and never uses GMO ingredients.  Thus it was a great preserve for us to partner with.

spring eggs baked in herbs and cream (and guilt trips)

Eggs + cream + butter + garlic + parmesan + herbs = the easiest most delicious breakfast to spread on buttered toast. 

Eggs + cream + butter + garlic + parmesan + herbs = the easiest most delicious breakfast to spread on buttered toast. 

Lately John and I have been talking about our dreams and plans and what we really want out of life. We have these talks often and check in with each other and say, "Hey, how are you? Like REALLY, how are you doing, how are we doing? How's that big dream doing? Are you still feeding it?"

I feel like I've needed these talks more than John has, but maybe it's equal. 

This week in particular I have needed these talks because I feel like I am LOSING MY MIND.

John has been working extra hours, which has left me to continue parenting late into the evenings by myself instead of getting my much needed break at the end of the day.  And after enduring this days at a time, I feel so tired and tightly wound that I think the only thing that will fix me is HOURS of alone time spent in a hot tub, with a good book and a plate of warm chocolate bouchons nearby.

And also, it's lonely here still! Utah still doesn't feel like home and for some reason that adds to the difficulty of it all. 

On these long days where John is working more and it feels like I am trying to raise a little one completely on my own, it's freaking hard. Single moms, or moms who have spouses that work crazy hours, you have all my heart eyes, hugs and praise hands. I seriously don't know how you do it. I feel like a pansy. 

And sometimes I get mad at myself for getting frustrated or tired. Because I know that being a mom is a privilege and I need to savor these little moments. 

For the most part I think I'm doing a pretty good job of that. Like when my babe wakes up at 4am and I scoop him up from his crib and he buries himself into my neck and touches my face with his little chubby hands. I'll hold him and rock him in my arms and it's worth all of the missed sleep in the world. Or when he spits out his organic green veggies I worked so hard to mash and puree, and then smiles the biggest smile, as if to say, "sorry mom, that was disgusting!" It makes me laugh out loud and love him so much that I can't get mad. 

I try to soak him all up by taking pictures and videos and kissing him a million times again and again until he laughs. I know he won't be little forever, so I really am trying to treasure it.

It's days when he refuses to nap, has barfed all over my freshly cleaned sheets (I literally JUST put them on the bed) and grabs his full-of-food spoon, flinging it everywhere but his mouth and later on, STILL REFUSES TO NAP; it's those days that counter balance my "oh I'm doing such a good job of enjoying motherhood moments" and I feel like I've failed... 

So when John asks me what my dreams are or how I am doing, I spill more words than he's counted on. Because it's hard to find "you" while still being "mom". I pull myself away from the role as often as I can (which isn't very often), pursuing the things I want to pursue, all for the sake of a dream, just because I know that I need it. I need something "creative + career" based that allows me to feel sane. And even saying that out loud comes with guilt and feeling like I am a major #momfail because I feel like being a mom should be enough, but I do need a little something else. I need to be good at something else. 

Does that make sense?

Speaking of #momfail I am NOT ready to address how sleep training is going yet or my dreams, but I am ready to talk about how I've been looking for ways to pack more protein in my breakfasts. Behold these baked eggs. 

Yes they involve butter and cream (welcome to Sweetish! lol!), but they have loads of fresh herbs and 3 protein packed eggs per person - so it totally balances out. Right? 

xo

SPRING EGGS BAKED IN HERBS AND CREAM

serves 4    (3 eggs per person in 4 shallow ramekin dishes)

So! I totally got the inspiration for this recipe from an egg carton. I'm super in love with Vital Farms Eggs. They have the cutest little miniature newsletter that flutters out of the carton every time I open it, and this time, I actually read it. On this newsletter was a recipe for baked eggs. I didn't follow it exactly, which is totally an invitation to not follow this recipe exactly either. It's very much a "little of this and a little of that" kind of thing. It should be fun and easy, just the way we like things around here. 

baker's note: I mention two different baking temperatures below for one reason: because it all depends on how you like your eggs. If you want a slightly runny yolk (but still a slightly set yolk too), broil your eggs. If you want a more even bake with some soft-boiled yolks, then bake your eggs at 425° F/ 218 °C. The hardest part here is watching your eggs so that they're done to your likeness. In the pictures here I chose to broil my eggs, and they were somewhere in between slightly runny yolks and hard yolks and I was just fine with that. Using room-temperature eggs makes a difference; cold eggs can make for a slightly uneven bake - aka a little bit underdone in the middle. Room temp. eggs make for an over all even bake - but watch them closely! If you want a slightly runny yolk you take them out of the oven a little sooner than you'd think. 

baker's note #2: Shallow ramekin dishes are the BEST tool for this dish. You can find some at Crate and Barrel, Bed Bath and Beyond or Amazon

½ cup fresh herbs of your liking, I used equal amounts of flat leaf parsley, basil and thyme and it was perfect!

½ cup good quality parmesan cheese, freshly grated by you, not pre-packed

2 penny-sized (or bigger) garlic cloves, freshly grated or minced

4 tablespoons salted butter (or unsalted, doesn't matter)

4 tablespoons of cream (roughly)

12 eggs, preferably pasteur raised, at room temperature (see baker's note) 

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

big slices of country sourdough bread to serve, preferably toasted and buttered, optional, but kind of a must :) 

 

Preheat oven to broil OR 425°F / 218° C. (See baker's note above about cooking methods and time). 

Chop your herbs, grate your cheese, mince your garlic and crack your eggs - Crack 3 eggs into 4 separate "cereal" sized bowls (so 3 eggs in each bowl) and set aside, taking care not to mess up the yolk. If you break a couple of yolks don't worry, it happens to all of us! tip! Cut some extra herbs if you'd like to reserve for sprinkling on top of the eggs when they're done baking

Mix your grated cheese with your herbs and garlic in a little bowl and set aside. 

Get out a large cookie sheet, one that can hold all 4 of your shallow ramekin dishes. 

Put your ramekin dishes on your cookie sheet, and place 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of cream (or a splash of cream nobody will complain!) in each. 

Pop the ramekin filled cookie sheet into the oven, until the butter melts and the cream bubbles, watch it carefully. It should be slightly browned. 

As soon as the butter and cream has bubbled, take them out of the oven onto a heat-proof surface.  Gently pour your cereal bowl eggs into each ramekin. Each ramekin should have 3 beautiful eggs nestled into each. 

Evenly sprinkle your herb + cheese + garlic mixture on top of your eggs with a sprinkling of salt and freshly cracked pepper. 

Broil: This should take anywhere from 5-9 minutes. WATCH THEM. This can be a tricky bit! If it looks like they're cooking too quickly or unevenly, tent them with some foil - leaving it open enough so you can still keep an eye on them. 

Bake at 425°F / 218C°: Takes about 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet pan about half way through.  

No matter what temperature you choose, bake until the middle the eggs look set - you should see white and they should loose their snot-like (sorry), clear appearance .

While the eggs are baking, toast some thick slices of country sourdough bread and butter liberally. 

Serve immediately with hot toast. 

If this recipe makes too many servings for you, cool the eggs, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Eat later throughout the week either cold or warmed for a protein packed breakfast. 

 

 

buttermilk cake with lemon curd and vanilla bean buttercream (easter cake part 2)

This year for lent I gave up something that was probably the hardest thing for me to give up ever.

And no, I know what you're thinking, it wasn't hot chocolate.

I gave up negativity. Specifically, I wasn't allowed to say anything negative about myself. 

I couldn't comment on pillow arms, or bald spots or huge calves. I wasn't allowed to say "I'm not good at this" every time I made something or took a picture for my blog or instagram. I wasn't allowed to re-hash life's decisions and say "what if." I wasn't allowed to say I fail at everything and I suck. I had to be 100% positive about everything and anything about me. And holy hell, it was HARD.

I'd get up in the morning and instead of groaning that I looked like a troll with dark circles and nest hair I'd say, (no joke!) "Good morning Robyn! It's early! You're tired! But you did an incredible job tending to a small human last night. You did an incredible job making sure he was comfortable and fed and safe. You're a great mom. You deserve to put on some clothes, wash that face and curl your hair."

I literally had a pep-talk-happy conversation in my head with myself EVERY goshdangmorning instead of my usual insults. 

And you know what? I actually felt happier all day.

Did I look better? Probably not.

Did I go most days naked-faced donning spandex? You bet!

Am I still bald?  

Absolutely. 

But talking to myself the way I would talk to a friend made all the difference. In fact I think it changed things so much for me I actually felt inspired and kept coming up with some pretty good ideas... AND when my sister saw me last she said I looked like I'd lost weight. Which made me LOL and feel awesome because the only thing I've been doing differently lately besides thinking more highly of myself is take longer walks and eat more frequently.... and eat more chocolate. 

I loved this challenge so much that I am going to continue it for the entire year.

By the way, this whole "let's not be negative thing" was inspired by Kate from Wood and Spoon. She posted on instagram that she was giving up negativity for lent and it resonated with me. Religiously speaking, I technically don't celebrate lent. I mean, I'm not catholic, or any other religion that celebrates it, but I love it so much that I do it every year anyway. So. The rest is history. 

Now I'm really hoping John will surprise me this Easter with some confetti filled eggs so we can have another confetti fight like last year. It's tradition. 

I hope you have a happy Easter and my friends. Know that somebunny, LOL THIS BUNNY, loves you for being here.

OH! And this cake!!! I almost forgot! I stinking LOVE this cake and I've been dying to share it with you. It's the perfect amount of sweetness and tart. The buttermilk cake is buttery and marries perfectly with the buttercream and lemon curd. They're all besties. This probably goes without saying, but I will never post a recipe I don't adore - especially a good frosting / cake / lemon curd recipe... but I have to say this buttercream is particularly amaze to the Easter egg balls.  xo

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
— Roald Dahl

buttermilk cake with lemon curd and vanilla bean butter cream 

adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

cake: makes one 8" or 9" 2 layered cake (4 layers if you cut the layers like I did) serving 10-12

buttercream: makes about 5 cups, or enough to frost one 8" or 9" cake and have enough to decorate

I'm so sorry I don't instruct you on how to make the little marzipan bunnies I made for this cake. You probably totally have time to make them like I did, huh? (EYE ROLL) Truth is they took me longer than I'd like, lol and someday I'll come around with a bunny tutorial but for now try to search for a similar method on pinterest if you're crazy like me. ;)

*bakers note: The cakes, frosting and lemon curd can all be made a day or two ahead of time and then assembled the day of or the day before. If you make the buttercream frosting ahead of time and store it in the fridge, break it up into pieces and using an electric mixer, beat it with the paddle attachment until it becomes room temperature and light and fluffy again. It's scary cause it seems like it's not going to come back together but it will! Sometimes if it's a particularly cold day, I'll run hot water around (not in) my bowl for a few seconds to get things movin.'  xo 

for lemon curd recipe go to this post. 

for the buttermilk cake: 

¾ cup / 170g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the pans

2 cups / 280g cake flour, plus more for the pan (I just used regular flour) 

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

¾ cup / 200g buttermilk at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 ½ cups / 300g sugar 

2 large eggs + 2 large yolks at room temperature 

 

Preheat oven to 325° F/ 162° C. 

Prepare two 8" OR two 9" cake pans, lining them with parchment paper first, then greasing them with butter and flour. Please note: I used 8" cake pans for this cake, and I baked a higher altitude thus my cakes required a slightly longer baking time. 

Sift together all dry ingredients in a big bowl. 

In a separate small bowl, combine buttermilk and vanilla and set aside. 

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-8 minutes.

Add one egg at a time to the butter + sugar mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each egg is incorporated. Beat for 15 seconds. 

Add your yolks one at a time. Batter should be smooth. 

Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and fold in the the dry ingredients with a spatula in 4 additions, alternating with the vanilla buttermilk mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. 

Spoon batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 35mins to slightly over 1 hour. I know, the range of time is ridiculous. See my bakers note above, but don't be discouraged. The cake should be golden brown, and a cake tester should come out clean with a few crumbs stuck to it when inserted into the cake. Wait for the cake to cool completely before cutting into layers. 

to assemble:

Cut each layer in half with a long serrated knife, creating 4 layers total and sandwiched each layer with a generous helping of lemon curd. I pipped my lemon curd layers in but you can easily spoon it on. Perfection is not our end game here, only deliciousness, so don't stress if the filling isn't perfectly even. I sure didn't. 

Put a "crumb coat" of buttercream frosting on the cake, let that chill in the fridge to set for 20 minutes and then frost with the rest of the butter cream frosting. 

Crumb coat = thin layer of frosting that brings all the crumbs to the party so you can frost it again without bringing the crumbs to the party. 

for lemon curd recipe go to this post. 

for vanilla bean butter cream: 

bakers note: Okay, real quick. This time, I had better luck with this recipe when I used more egg whites. I know they say baking is an exact science but to me 90% of it is initiative. Use your gut. The original recipe calls for only 4 egg whites but after trial and error, adding more egg whites worked better for me. It's dry here in Utah, and I'm at a high altitude, I'm guessing that had something to do with it. Don't stress too much about it. You want your egg whites + sugar mixture to be a wet and snotty (sorry). If it seems like its too thick with sugar (aka not a snot consistency), add more egg white. 

2 vanilla beans, split half lengthwise or 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste

4-6 large egg whites (I used 6 because my egg whites seemed a little on the small side) 

1 cup / 200g sugar, preferably superfine only because it dissolves quicker

2 cups / 454g unsalted butter, softened 

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if using vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla beans, only use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract) 

½ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pods and set aside. tip! Stick the scraped pods in your sugar container to make vanilla sugar! 

Fill a medium sized saucepan with a little bit of water (about 2-3 inches). The saucepan needs to be big enough to place a glass bowl on top, but make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water. 

Put egg whites and sugar in the glass bowl that will fit over your medium sized saucepan. 

Bring the water in the medium sized saucepan to a gentle simmer. Place the glass bowl on top of the saucepan and whisk gently for about 8-10 minutes, or until mixture becomes 160°F / 71°C. You'll know it's ready because the mixture should be too hot to hold your finger in the mixture for a long time, but not too hot to touch. 

Remove egg white mixture from the heat and pour into your electric mixing bowl. With the whisk attachment whisk heated egg whites and sugar until it looks like a stiff cloud or shaving cream. The mixture should cool as it whips, and the outside of the bowl should feel room temperature. 

On a medium speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, until the butter is fully incorporated, scraping the bowl about halfway. 

Add vanilla bean seeds, extract and salt and whip for 30 seconds. 

Use buttercream immediately, or store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 3-5 days. Take care that buttercream can absorb any flavor it's around, so it's important that it's sealed well. See *bakers note above if you'd like to store it chilled for a few days.

lemon curd (easter cake part 1)

Has someone ever said something to you super nonchalantly but it's stuck with you forever? There's a handful of sentences that have stuck with me like honey on a bear....and one of them was said to me by this really quirky personal trainer.

"You're really serious." He said to me once. "I can just tell you're a really serious person." 

Side note: This was forever ago, when mom and I decided to take up a personal trainer to get stronger. We'd been throwing medicine balls and making our muscles ache for a few months at this point. 

I laughed. "REALLY?" I said shocked and offended, "I think you're the first person that's ever called me serious."  

I paused. 

"I'm a Sagittarius? I can be really blunt? I don't really have tolerance for bull crap and I do have an uncanny talent for speaking up." I had to defend myself in some way. SERIOUS?! Come on! I'm FUN DANG IT. He shook his head and told me, "Nah, that's not it, you're just serious."  

I mean who is this guy?

That was the first time I realized he was right, I could be a very serious person.

I think of that accusation sometimes when I start writing a blog post.

Like the start of this one was me weeping over the deaths of innocent children in Syria but then I realized that you friends have probably already read all about it, and are crying with me and are probably already being proactive and helping and rehashing the sad stuff isn't going to do us any good.... unless we focus on the good we can do

See? I don't mean to be so serious. I'm never afraid to talk about the tough stuff, but I do find that being a new still very sleep deprived mom, I can lean more on the serious side of things lately.... I just want to scoop up all the children and hug them forever. You too?

Can we talk about lemon curd?

And the fact that I ate my husband's bouchon today?

Did that sound dirty?

Don't tell him I ate it. It's his fault for not eating it sooner and my fault for not having any self control... but mostly his fault because you can't just leave something like that lying around. 

Okay, lemon curd. I decided to split up the post for my Easter cake (aka my lemon curd filled buttermilk cake with vanilla bean buttercream) because it requires alotta butter and 3 different recipes. 

I KNOW.

And as I write this I am reminded of this awesome author who said she HATES when a recipe calls for another recipe... I was TOTALLY on her side until I realized, sometimes I'm her own worst nightmare... But, this cake is worth it.  

Stay tuned.

Love you friends. xo 

 

voluptuous lemon curd  

adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Makes about 2 1/2 cups, enough to fill one 8" or 9" cake or one 9" inch tart or to fill 10 eclairs

 Voluptuous is a word that reminds me of Jessica Rabbit, but appropriately used here because the amount of butter makes its super "bouncy in body"... and the author of this recipe used that word to describe it in the recipe notes and I'm like YES. 

bakers note: *I realize that it's a personality thing but when I read a recipe I try to decide if any of the steps are superfluous. I simplified this one just a tinge because who really minds lemon zest in their lemon curd? The original recipe calls for straining it out, but this homy ain't about to do that because #newmomlife. I say that because if the zest bothers you, strain it out with a fine mesh strainer before using. If you're making this for the Easter cake it can be made up to a week ahead of time, and kept in the fridge, tightly wrapped. And even if you don't wanna make the cake you need a good fool-proof lemon curd recipe right?

 

5 to 8 unwaxed lemons for  1 cup / 241g lemon juice, and 3 of lemons to be used for zesting

4 large eggs, preferably pasture raised

1 cup / 200g sugar 

1 cup (2 sticks) 227 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, preferably organic 

 

Zest 3 lemons trying not to remove any of the white part or the "pith". This stuff is bitter, nutritionally speaking it's actually really good for us, but it's bitter and we don't want it our lemon curd. 

Cut and juice these same zested lemons plus your extra lemons until you reach the required amount of juice needed for the recipe, 1 cup or 241g. (For me it took 4.5 lemons.)

Fill a medium sized saucepan with a little bit of water (about 2-3 inches). The saucepan needs to be big enough to place a glass bowl on top, but make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water. 

Bring the water in the medium sized saucepan to a gentle simmer - but don't put the glass bowl on top yet. 

While you're waiting for the water to simmer, bring lemon juice and zest to a boil in a different small saucepan. 

While you're waiting for your liquids to heat up, whisk eggs and sugar in your glass bowl (the glass bowl you're going to put over the simmering water).

Ladle about 1/3 of the hot lemon juice into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. We are tempering our eggs here or "bringing our eggs up to speed" aka making the eggs the same temperature as the hot liquid so they don't curdle. 

Slowly add the remaining hot lemon juice to the egg mixture whisking constantly until combined. 

Put this glass bowl mixture over your medium sized saucepan with the simmering water. (Remember the bowl should NOT touch the water!) The steam from the water is going to help "cook" our eggs and create a custard. 

Whisk this mixture faithfully until it gets thick - about 10-15 minutes maybe a little sooner or longer - watch it. Temperature it should be around 140°F or be able to coat the back of a spoon, and should leave a line when you run your finger across it. 

If you want to strain* your curd, strain it now. (See baker's note.) 

Whisk in the cold chunks of butter until incorporated. 

When the curd is smooth and butter disappears, cover the bowl with plastic wrap directly touching the surface so it doesn't form a skin. Keep tightly wrapped in the fridge for at least 3 hours before using, preferably chilled over night. 

This stuff lasts for up to two weeks if tightly wrapped and kept chilled. 

buttermilk oats with dark sugar and raspberries

Simple and nourishing yet still feels indulgent because of the touch of dark sugar. This breakfast is more of an idea than a recipe, but one to keep and make again and again. 

Simple and nourishing yet still feels indulgent because of the touch of dark sugar. This breakfast is more of an idea than a recipe, but one to keep and make again and again. 

This might be weird for you, this whole buttermilk and oats thing, but it's kind of my like my life right now. Weird. Wonderful. Unexpected. Also, I'm 100% sleep deprived, so give me alllllll the carbs. 

My sweet boy got sick with a cold, and we've completely regressed with the whole sleeping thing and after a week of waking up 3+ times a night, and not really napping, this mama's about to lose it. So now that he's all better, we've hit sleep training hard. Real hard, because I've just realized that I haven't slept longer than 3-4 hour stretches in 6 months.

It's time.

I'm so tired of being so tired. 

So while it's probably the most painful thing I've ever experienced other than childbirth, (because he cries endlessly when we lay him down and he just has to to work it out) sweet boy is slowly learning that he CAN have a decent bedtime, that naps are a luxury to be enjoyed NOW (I told him, trust me you're gonna want these when you're an adult) and that he doesn't need to party with mom and dad all night (but mostly mom)

John's all about sleep training but I needed some more emotional support. After a good phone call with my mom she reminded me that I deserve sleep, and that he's old enough and strong enough, so it's time to put on the tough-cookie pants and bucker up with the sleep training. "It'll break your heart but he's got to learn." She also told me, "Remember that a happy mom, a "well rested" mom is better mom. It's good for you and it's good for him."   

Amen.  

It's been really hard to think of myself lately. So my mom telling me I deserve sleep and here's how to make it happen had me doing gospel choir praise hands. (ps. I have a thing for gospel choirs. Like, as in it's a dream of mine to sing in one one day and have the congregation clap with me and have a gut-busting solo.)

Being pregnant, recovering from birth, breast feeding and having a baby that doesn't sleep - all of it just kinda makes me crave some "me" time.... and also, I want my body back. I feel like more sleep will maybe help with this?

Moms, how do you strike that balance of being mom and "it's about me right now small one, please just chill". Is there such a thing? I haven't found it yet.... although sleep training is training me to be tougher and weirdly think of myself.... And being stricter about nap time is helping me gain some much needed breaks throughout the day: hello, sanity, I've missed you. 

Anyway these oats are not really a recipe - more like a suggestion of ingredients and a good breakfast that can easily be made ahead of time and then heated up quickly in the morning. And I've been really into them because I need something to persuade me to stop drinking so much hot chocolate. 

May your weekend be filled with at least one nap, some "you" time and a warm bowl of breakfast. xo 

 

buttermilk oats with dark sugar and raspberries 

serves 2

I love the tang of the buttermilk with the brown sugar here... and the burst of tartness you get from the raspberries is just perfection. If I had my own brunch bakery, this bowl of goodness would totally be on the menu. 

bakers note:  I love buying fresh raspberries and then freezing them so they remain beautifully whole. Since berry season is just starting to bud around here, imma about to stock up. Woot-woot!

 

1 cup steal cut oats 

4 cups filtered water 

1/4 tsp kosher salt 

1/2 cup buttermilk or any milk of your choice if you buttermilk weirds you out

2ish tablespoons muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or any sweetener of your choice) 

hand full of frozen raspberries, crushed

additional toppings (optional) unsweetened coconut, chia seeds, walnuts, and more milk of your choice

 

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and then add 1 cup of steal cut oats + salt. Simmer until the oats have absorbed the liquid but are still a bit saucy, add more water if needed. Stir in 1/2 cup buttermilk and top with dark sugar, raspberries and other toppings of your choice. 

no-bake salted peanut butter "cookies" | the first mess cookbook giveaway!

We flew home recently for my best friends wedding. After a freak snow storm in March and endless cloudy days it was sooooo good to feel the warm sun of California again. (ps. We mentioned our trip home to a few new friends we've made here in Utah and we've noticed that a lot of native Utahns call California, "Cali" and it's officially one of my pet peeves. I want to correct them and say it's California, not Cali, but I don't because it's rude. It's probably rude that I'm talking about it right now, huh? But am I alone in this? My peeps, we don't call California, Cali RIGHT?!! Stop it! :D)

The day was perfectly her. She was surrounded by her best girlfriends (half of us have been BFFS since we were 7) all wearing blush pink and holding english roses and praising how beautiful she looked. Her dress was beaded, fitted and sparkly with a small band of diamonds in her hair. She was RADIANT and by the end of the reception she had a send off that was probably the best send off I've ever seen: a full-blown confetti canon that was loud and shot gold confetti EVERYWHERE. It felt like it rained gold for days, it was completely and totally HER.

This last trip home was especially wonderful because I had help from my mom. When I'm here, in Utah, I check the clock way too many times in the afternoon because I'm exhausted from taking care of a small babe all day and could really use an adult or a nap. Since neither of those are a very likely option, behold these no-bake cookies. They're Laura Wright's recipe, from her gorgeous new masterpiece, The First Mess Cookbook.  

These bad boys are brilliant, addicting, nourishing (no sugar and nut-powered) and the PERFECT sweet bite to pick you up in the afternoon. After you eat one it's like having another mom around because you just have that much energy.  

And not only are these awesome for you, they're awesome for your people too. It's hard to find a cookie you feel totally great about feeding your little one you know? But these are soft enough to feed your really littles, and I think they freeze beautifully if you want to double the batch and freeze some for later. There's nothing more I love than feeding my people a treat that's good for them and this cookbook is FULL of beautiful recipes like this one that I'm dying to make. So guess what? 

GIVEAWAY TIME!

YAY! Because I love you and this gorgeous book, I'm giving away a copy of The First Mess Cookbook to one of you beautiful friends! Woohoo! All you have to do is leave a comment on here below and I'll announce the winner on Monday. (Confetti emojis) 

Trust me, this book is one to treasure.

Congrats to my crazy talented blog-friend Laura for creating such a stunner of a book. I can't stop looking through it. Love you friends and good luck! xo

Update: Contest only open to US and Canadian residents only. Sorry I forgot to mention that earlier!! Can you tell I'm a newb?!

******GIVEAWAY CLOSED!***** (I just straight up wrote all of your names down and picked out of a hat. :) Congrats Anna!! Email me (click the little envelope icon in the top right hand corner of the site) with your mailing address and I'll send the book your way. :D

I wish I could have given away one to all of you!! Thank you so much for your comments and for entering! I'll do this again. xo) 

14. Looking up.jpg

no-bake salted peanut butter "cookies"

Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright

I soaked my dates in some boiling water because they were a little dry. I think this messed with the consistency just a bit, so I added some spoonfuls of flax seed and a tablespoon of almond meal to stiffen up my mixture. I didn't find that my additions messed with the deliciousness of the cookies at all. In fact John just asked me to make these again, and I'm quite sure if Myles could talk, he'd be asking for them too. 

1 cup / 250g raw almonds (I did half almonds, half pecans for fun)

½ cup / 125ml unsalted smooth, natural peanut butter

1 cup / 250g Medjool dates, pitted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (I squeezed in an extra teaspoon)

flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, grind the raw almonds on high until you have a course meal, about 30 seconds.

Add the peanut butter, pitted dates, vanilla, and lemon juice to the food processor. Pulse the mixture a couple of times to get everything moving. Then mix with the food processor on high speed until have a uniform "dough" that clumps together.

Using a rough measure of 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons / 22 to 30g per cookie, portion the dough into balls and place on the baking sheet. Press the balls down, either with the palm of your hand or the tines of a dinner fork. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the flaky sea salt.

Place the cookies in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up. The cookies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. 

jeans and chocolate pots de crème

pots de creme is french for really easy and decadent chocolate pudding. 

pots de creme is french for really easy and decadent chocolate pudding. 

The other day my husband John noticed that I wore jeans for the first time in months. Never mind that there are now parts of me that spill over the jeans resembling one of my favorite breakfast pastries, the point is, I can finally zip them up. 

Always failing to see the worst parts of me, John slapped my butt and said, "Hot mama!"

This whole exchange made me laugh and feel attractive, which is also something I haven't felt in months because spandex, hair loss (I'm literally pulling out small nests every time I wash my hair and have a bald spot, FREAKING AGAIN), newfound-breakout-like-I'm-14-again-face and soft bulky sweatshirts can only do so much for your self esteem.

I keep thinking I'm alone in all of this. Like why does no one talk about how motherhood makes you feel like an insane potato sack most of the time? I'm constantly rubbing spit-up or poop off of my pants (my baby's poop, not mine), my hair's up and a gross mess and it's not just my outside that struggles, it's my insides too. 

Motherhood for me, is flat out, the hardest thing I've ever done and SUCH a juxtaposition of emotions; several times a day I find myself longing to be back at my fast paced career making money, but a bigger part of me is okay being poor so I can stay home with my son. It's a lot of self doubt mixed with "wow I can't believe I can do this"; it's I JUST changed you into clean clothes when they poop all over themselves again, it's longing for independence but as soon as you're away from your babe you miss them, it's putting everything on the line for them, your sanity, your sleep, your health, your career, everything - at least for me it's been everything. It's breaking me and re-shaping me in the best possible way.  

Okay okay, no more early motherhood #momtales. Sorry I keep talking about it. I just feel like we need to talk about it? I have so much more to say about it all too, but have I lost you? Is this boring? 

Anyway, these pudding pots are like a butt slap. 

They give you that boost you need to feel like you are REALLY attractive in the kitchen. Because they're easy and quick, but taste like you spent days making them. And they're pretty rich too, but the good rich. The kind of rich where the guy still drives around a 10 year old car but makes millions because he's cool and humble like that.  

And because motherhood has a way of lathering you in all kinds of humble, today we celebrate that I can zip up my jeans again with chocolate and cream. Love you friends. 

chocolate pots de crème

adapted from Melissa Clark, via the New York Times

I make the whipped cream for these babies extra sweet to balance out the rich bittersweetness of the chocolate creme. Cream to balance out more cream. I think it works perfectly. 

1 ½ cups / 353ml heavy cream, preferably from pasture-raised cows 

½ cup / 118ml whole milk, preferably from pasture-raised cows

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (think 60% cocao content or higher) 

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped finely 

4 egg yolks, preferably from pasture raised eggs

3 tablespoons / 51g sugar

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt (I didn't measure this, I just used a pinch) 

cocoa powder, sprinkles or chocolate shavings to garnish, optional

 

whipped cream:

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until soft peaks form and spoon on top of the chocolate pots de creme when cooled.  

1 cup / 235ml heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons / 28g sugar

½ - 1 teaspoon vanilla powder, paste or extract 

 

Preheat oven to 300° F / 180° C. 

In a medium sized sauce pan heat milk and cream over low heat until it just reaches a boil. Remove from heat immediately and slowly whisk in chopped chocolate. 

In a separate, large-ish bowl, whisk egg yolks, salt and sugar together. 

Then, using a steady hand, slowly stream the chocolate cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Tip: Pour just a little bit of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, whisk it furiously, and then continue to poor the rest. 

Divide mixture among any oven-proof small-ish cup-like dishes of your choice. Espresso cups, ramekins, jars, etc. I used 4 ounce ramekins the first time I made this and generously filled them and came up with 5 total. Then I used the large dishes you see here and came up with 4.

Set cups on a cookie sheet or roasting pan lined with parchment so the cups don't slip. Carefully pour water into the pan, so it reaches no more than half way up the cups. Don't fret too much about how much water can fit in your pan, the point of the water is to create steam and let the pots cook gently so they don't crack.

Bake until edges are set but the middle remains jiggly, about 30-35 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let the chocolate pots continue to cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving. Top with fresh sweet whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. 

peppermint sundaes with bittersweet chocolate sauce

 We're going through sleep regression right now. Which means my sweet, happy babe who used to sleep for 6-8 hour stretches is now waking up every hour at a certain point in the night, screaming. It kills me on many levels. 

You know that scene in Elf where Emily asks, "So Buddy, how'd you sleep?" And he says, "Great! I got a full 40 minutes!" Hashtag, SO MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. 

I keep thinking, this no sleep thing is going to get easier. Kinda like a cold water plunge - Like that I'll get used to it, just keep swimming.  But I'm so not used to it yet. Mothers out there do you ever get used to it?

It's weird because I miss my life and what it was like before this little guy entered it, but I wouldn't trade it or go back for anything. Even sleep. 

Motherhood has taught me to guard my time; say no if you really mean no, be braver, eat more chocolate (hence this sauce) and try harder to film and photograph every day moments - because every sound (right now Myles can make sounds like a dolphin and it's fantastic), and smile and giggle and wiggle melts me and I must record it. It's taught me that life is precious and it goes by too fast. It's taught me to love more and love harder. 

I love these little people, and it is not a slight thing when they who are so fresh from God love us.
— Charles Dickens
peppermint ice cream

Motherhood somehow, even though I struggle to know what day it is and remember the last time I've eaten, has somehow helped me find more of myself than I ever thought was possible.

It's inspired me to make new goals and to take better care of myself, because it's not just about me anymore.

I read this quote once that went something like "don't ever apologize for doing something that makes you feel better about yourself, because if you're a happier person you're going to be a better mom." 

Sometimes I feel bad for finishing my mascara on one eye instead of rushing to my baby when he cries, but then I remember, I need this eye to have mascara on it so I feel better, and if I feel better, I'm a better mom. This can apply to us as women in every regard. We're nurturing creatures, and I think it's important that we take the time to do what makes us happy so we can get out there and give more.  

We also need lots of chocolate and ice cream.

Am I rambling now? I'm sorry, I really haven't had much sleep lately.  

 Now here's a list of "What I wish I could make this weekend but probably wont because #newmomlife"; aka links from some bloggers I simply LOVE. 

What I wish I could make this weekend: 

This Myer Lemon Cheesecake with a chocolate bottom from Kate. Ps. if you haven't heard about Kate yet, she's amazing. (No words, only heart eyes.) 

This Brussels Slaw from Sara. I feel like I could eat this for days and never tire of it.... especially if I added bacon. 

This Greens and Beans Soup from Sherrie. I really need to eat something else besides mac and cheese or toast for dinner.

I have a problem with loving rice pudding too much, and since I can't stop thinking about Amanda's Vanilla Rice Pudding with Cherries , it's just confirming my problem. 

I've made spaghetti squash once and it was a horrifying experience. But this recipe from Laura has me reconsidering my distain because her Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Garlicky Arugula Cream sounds amaze. 

More to come. Happy weekend my friends. xo 

 

bittersweet chocolate sauce 

adapted from jenis 

makes 2-ish cups

This is the sauce we had for my birthday dessert - peppermint sundaes. We've made it several times since. It also makes for a smashing cup of hot cocoa, when you add several table spoons of the sauce to some warm milk (almond milk is fantastic too!) and stir. 

bakers note: This sauce is referred to as fudge-sauce in Jeni's cookbook, but to me, it's much more of a syrup-sauce. It can be a little on the thin side, so I reduced the water from 1 cup to 1/2 cup to thicken it up a bit. This sauce also solidifies once it hits the cold ice cream, which makes for a fun contrast of textures: the chewy with the smooth and creamy.  

1/2 to 3/4s cup water (up to 1 cup of water if you want really thin sauce)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light, organic corn syrup 

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (the best quality you can afford)

1 teaspoon vanilla 

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped  (the best quality you can afford)

5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped  (the best quality you can afford)

 

Over a medium heat, bring water, sugar and corn syrup to a boil until sugar dissolves, stirring slightly. Remove mixture from heat, and slowly whisk in the cocoa powder until combined. Next whisk in the chopped chocolate and vanilla extract, whisking together until combined and smooth. Serve sauce warm over peppermint ice cream, or any ice cream you choose. 

Store sauce in an air-tight container for up to two weeks in the fridge.

why is this good for me?

peppermint - improves digestion and stress and helps with nausea and reduces congestion and coughs. Although I'm not sure how much of the peppermint in peppermint ice cream helps with that, but I always feel calmer after eating the stuff. Maybe it's in my head - but I feel like there's a reason we serve peppermint ice cream around the holidays. ;) 

bittersweet chocolate - bittersweet chocolate is chocolate that has a 70% cocoa content or higher. Raw cocoa is really the stuff that helps us the most - as it's chocolate in it's purest form, but I can't help but think that dark chocolate helps us in some way too. Chocolate is supposed to help us fight stress by combating our free radicals (aka our stress) with it's antioxidant properties. It's also a mood booster. I crave it lots right now and definitely feel it's effects. It also contains a small portion of caffinee.... which may just explain everything right there. 

2016: confessions, reflections and recipes

I’ve been reviewing this past year just a little bit because I’ve needed to remind myself that I have actually accomplished some things besides changing poopy diapers and keeping a small baby alive. 

Although now that I type that out maybe I just need to mic drop my year right there and say YEEAAAASSSSS I survived birth, breast feeding, no sleep and keeping my baby ALIVE. (And moving across 3 states with a 3 week old?!)

Side note: You guys, breast feeding is not easy. It’s amazing and worth it, but it’s HARD. Maybe it’s just me - But I miss sleep and freedom real bad. All those gorgeous mamas with perfect boob pics that you see floating around instagram nursing their precious little babes  - yeah, I am SO far from that. Maybe I’m a terrible person for admitting this? I want my privacy, my boobs covered and to not feel like a cow getting milked every time I pump. It’s all a love + hate thing for sure. Okay, I’m done. Well wait, I guess I just wanted to mention that there are some of us who aren’t in LOVE with breast feeding, but do it anyway because it’s good for me and my baby - and I’m healthy and able so I choose to do it - and I guess when all is said and done, it is a beautiful bonding experience, but it's still not crazy easy and perfect. Okay, now I’m done. 

John was ready with his goals for this year. Which made me super proud. When he asked me what mine were I told him - “Survive and enjoy my first year of motherhood". 

Oh! And read more books. 

And make more bread...

but eat more vegetables.

I also want to post on here more and post content that isn’t just a story and a recipe. I happy emoji cried when I read Sara’s post about the New Year, and how we are totally on the same wave length with not making posting such a “thing”. Cause you know, it takes a lot of effort and time to post these recipes and pics and there's SO much more I want to share, but I stop from sharing it because I think, eh, it’s a food blog, am I allowed to share something different? Yes? It doesn't seem good enough to post, so I just don't post. I let perfection and comparison stifle my progress and I want to be better about that. I’m focusing on non-perfection and doing my own thing. “You do you” if you will.  Is that a good New Years goal? 

Okay, my babe is hungry (yay breast feeding!).  I’ll talk to you again soon. In the meantime here are some of my favorite pics and recipes from this past year.

Happy New Year my friends. Thank you for being a part of my year, it's been... wonderfully life changing.  

xo

Top favorite recipes posted in 2016:

(click on the picture, and it will take you to the recipe!) 

THE cake, made for grandma's birthday. (For many of you, this became your favorite cake too! A million heart emojis of thanks.)

bittersweet chocolate cake with buttercream frosting

bittersweet chocolate cake with buttercream frosting

The cookies I made for John for his first "pre-fathers day". These practically went global (lol): I have a cousin in Utah that sent us a pic of him posing with this cookie and his beard dubbing it: the man cookie. Perfect.  

salted oatmeal cornflake cookie, aka the man cookie 

salted oatmeal cornflake cookie, aka the man cookie 

Our big news and my favorite easy banana cake. (So many of you made this and loved it! Happy emoji tears again.)

chocolate chip banana cake

chocolate chip banana cake

When I told you we were moving over salad (Sad emoji tears this time. But, so many of you sent me so much love and support when you heard the news and for that I am forever grateful):

the best cesear salad dressing

the best cesear salad dressing

And because I found the time to take a shower and make pie all in the same day: (Got wild good feedback on the whole - early motherhood is no joke thing AND this pie recipe. Thank you for helping me feel sane, and making pie with me friends, I really like you a lot. xo) 

apple pie with hint of cheddar crust 

apple pie with hint of cheddar crust 

Gooey cinnamon rolls with tangy cream cheese icing

It's currently 2:30 in the morning. I couldn't sleep. My small babe needed to be nursed not so long ago and I couldn't stop thinking about how I've been working on this cinnamon roll post for over a month and still haven't hit publish.

I can't decide if I have a problem with perfection, or if I'm just too dang tired to proof read everything. So, here I am in front of a glowing computer screen, listening to a snoring dog and writing to you. I lit the fire and turned on my twinkle lights to feel extra cozy. 

The early weeks and months of motherhood are lonely. Often I found myself in the wee hours of the morning, in a chair, freezing my buns off, nursing a small babe thinking how nice it would be to talk to someone right now. I have turned to my favorite movie (About Time) and my phone for company.

Recently, through many of these silent nights, I can't help but think of the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. That long ago, Mary had her own sweet baby boy in a very holy and sacred night. I'm sure there were so many times where she felt lonely and lost. I'm sure there were so many times where she looked down at her small little babe of a boy and had no idea what was to come. 

My heart hurts because I love this boy of mine so much. Even still, I have cried days upon days because of how hard this move and transition has been for me. I'm quite sure I had a touch of postpartum depression. I would get stuck on things like how am I supposed to feel okay taking my baby out in 23 degree weather? I would never have to deal with this at home in Southern California. How do I scrape ice off of a windshield again? No I'm not hungry, all I want is a blanket and hot chocolate because I'm too cold to think. I've been so worried about keeping my baby warm and safe and dry and healthy that I feel this change and the weather have added much unwanted stress. 

I think I'm okay now though. While I'm still not super used to everything, I haven't cried in at least two weeks and I found the time to make cinnamon rolls twice and deliver them to neighbors. 

I've also tried to think outside myself... I haven't done the best job of it, but I have tried. I've tried to remember why we really celebrate Christmas in the first place, and again, my thoughts are always brought back to that silent night.

Because I never had to ride a donkey for days to deliver my child. Or deliver him among animals outside in the middle of the night. I don't know if Mary every complained about how cold it was, or how alone she felt, but I'm sure, the moment she held her little boy in her arms, she felt her heart would burst out of her chest because of how much she loved him. 

That love, is something I want to focus on this Christmas. Because this year has been heartbreakingly hard for me, but it's also been so unexplainably wonderful because we've had Myles. 

And even though I miss sleep, I love the precious quiet of the early morning where it's just me and him. 

To get him back to sleep in the wee hours of the night I sing to him and he just lights up like a Christmas tree when I sing Silent Night. It's like he's trying to remind me of something. Funny, how such a small little person who only smiles, cries and sleeps, can really teach you everything. 

Happy Christmas my friends. I hope it's a good one. xo 

Gooey cinnamon rolls with tangy cream cheese icing

inspired by one of my favorites Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean blog, brioche dough recipe from the brilliant Zoe Francois 

We have cinnamon rolls every Christmas Eve. It's one of the amazing traditions my family started around this magical time of year and a Christmas without them just isn't right. My take on cinnamon rolls is that they have to be gooey, and the icing has to be tangy to balance all of that sweetness out. All too often a cinnamon roll is lathered in more too-sweet powdered-sugar-and-milk icing and it kills me. Give me the tang of cream cheese with my roll! I hope you like these as quickly as they disappear in my family. xo

bakers note - I completely over stuff my cinnamon rolls - so much so that the filling is spilling and bubbling out when baked and it makes gooey pools at the bottom of the pan. No one's ever complained thus far. So, if you're looking at this recipe like holy hell that's a lot of filling, it's because it is. I also make cinnamon rolls in the masses. Because why not? They're so fun to give away. But if you'd like, this recipe can be cut in half - just take note you'll need to knead the dough after the first rise, a little bit longer to develop the gluten. 

 

dough 

1 ½ cups / 350ml lukewarm water

1 tablespoon yeast (I used Active Dry, but Red Star Platinum, or Quick-Rise yeast is also recommended)  (1 packet)

1 to 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt

8 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

½ cup / 170ml honey 

1 ½ cups / 3 sticks / 340g unsalted butter, melted

7 ½ - 8 ½ cups / 875g - 1125g unbleached all-purpose flour (you'll also need more flour for kneading the dough and to add to the dough once it's risen a first time) 

 

Mix the honey with the lukewarm* water. Add the yeast. Stir it up just a bit with a spoon. 

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs just slightly. Add the yeast mixture and melted butter and mix. 

Add flour slowly, about ¼ cup at a time, with the mixer speed on low. Mix until it forms a very very wet, sticky, sticky dough. 

Pour sticky, almost-unmanageable dough into a large butter-greased bowl. Keep covered with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Then let dough rest in the fridge for another 3 hours. This dough is really hard to work with when it's warm, so make sure it's throughly chilled. You can let the dough rest at this stage for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, just make sure it's covered in plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out. So, I made my dough one day ahead of time and let it rest over night in the fridge. I call this stage the "first rise". 

Knead your cold dough on a floured surface for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to develop the gluten. Then divide dough into three parts. With a rolling pin, roll each dough part into a rectangle-ish shape that's about ¼ inch to ½ inch thick. Remember the longer the rectangle, the wider your cinnamon rolls will be. (Work with just one dough ball at a time though, don't roll out 3 rectangles all at once okay?)

Now you're ready to make your filling. See below.  

* lukewarm = you stick your finger in the water and you can't feel the water. It should be body temperature. If the water is too warm it will kill the yeast.

 

Filling: 

Please note this makes enough filling for the entire dough recipe. If you're only using half of the dough, then cut this filling recipe in half. ;) 

2 cups / 4 sticks / 455g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (please don't panic if you only have salted butter, use it!)

4 cups / 800g dark brown sugar (if you don't have dark brown sugar, use light!)

8 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg (totally optional)

½ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, omit this salt) 


Mix the soft butter, brown sugar, salt and spices together in a bowl to create a paste. You'll have to divide the filling according to how you've divided the dough. I divided my dough in 3 large parts thus divided my filling to match. Does that make sense? I didn't measure it exactly. 

Spread your filling all over the surface of dough. It's like finger painting with sugary butter and everything about that concept is right.

Roll up the dough very tightly. With a strong piece of string cut the roll about every 1 ½ - 2 inches. This created the beautiful cinnamon spirals. Place those babies on a lightly butter-greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Cover, and let rise until double in size (about 2-4 hours). I call this the "second rise". 

Bake at 350° degrees for 15-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Try not to over bake. Frost while rolls are still warm. 

 

My Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting: 

adapted from Baking Illustrated

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened but still cool

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 tablespoon sour cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Whip in an electric mixer the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla until combined and smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar about ½ cup at a time, mixing in slowly at first so you avoid a powdered sugar facial.  Whip until lumps are gone. Spread over rolls while rolls are still warm so the frosting seeps into all the crooks and crannies. 

 

tart apple pie with a hint of cheddar crust

I have circles under my eyes and my hair smells like burger... and that's just the start of it.

John congratulated me on going to the store “all by myself” the other night. I went out to buy chocolate chips, brownie mix, marshmallows and cheese.

The necessities.  

Me going out on my own was a big step towards normalcy. Lately I’ve been sending happy little text messages asking John if he can pick up something on the way home from work (like burgers for dinner) because I don’t want to go out. I’ve definitely been housebound with this new little babe of mine. It doesn’t help that I’m living in a brand new area, with like, no friends and nothing’s familiar. I’m also really paranoid about baby Myles getting sick because he’s still so new... ANNNND it’s also cold outside, and I am, for the record, a wimp when it comes to any type of “weather”. I’m used to summertime all the time… when I saw ice on our lawn yesterday morning I was: 😑  

My pup Sundae, on the other hand, has been adjusting to this new life of huge changes like a champ. She loves baby Myles and tries to smother him with kisses every time he’s at her level. She sits by him protectively when he’s in his little swing and sometimes beats me to him when he suddenly starts crying and I’m quickly peeing in the bathroom and can’t quite get to him. When I rush out of the bathroom to tend to him, there’s Sundae, sitting loyally by his side. It kills me.  

When John comes home with food and we’re all sitting on the couch watching something on Netflix (like The Crown, I'm obsessed) and I see my little babe in my arms and a snoring pup by the fireplace and my BFF to my right I feel like life is really good...

Even though there are dark circles under my eyes, and my hair smells like burger.

I know that someday I'll be normal again, because you know, I’ve got my squad.  

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your squad too and I hope, for the sake of your people and your mouth you make this incredible pie… you guys there’s cheese in the crust. Maple Hill Creamery, 100% grass-fed CHEESE. It’s pretty amaze. More below.

Love you friends.

tart apple pie with a hint of cheddar crust 

adapted from Blackbirds Pie and Sam Sifton 

My mom is not a crust person, but she loved this crust so much she congratulated me on how delicious it was. If that’s not high praise I don’t know what is. The Maple Hill Creamery cheese is what makes this crust amazing. It’s just enough to make people pause and say WHY is this crust so good? And you can tell them, it’s the cheese. See where to buy the best-grass-fed-cheddar-ever, using their store locator, here.

for the crust:

2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

1/4 cup Maple Hill Creamery one year cheddar cheese, shredded 

1 cup cold water

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup ice

Sift the flour, salt, and sugar together in a food processor. Add the butter pieces and shredded cheese and pulse briefly, until you achieve pea-sized pieces of butter. Careful not to over mix.

Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of this ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and pulse until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. Take the dough out of the processor at this point and work the dough with your hands, adding small drops of the ice water mixture as you see fit, until it’s all combined. Work the dough until just combined. You should see faint marble ribbons of butter in your dough.  

Then divide the dough into two flat discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let them sit for at least one hour, but preferably over night, in the refrigerator. 

tip! If wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

for the filling: (I made this one day ahead of time)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ½ pounds apples, peeled and cored, then cut into wedges (3 large granny smiths and 2 large honeycrisps)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons tapioca starch or cornstarch 

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 egg, lightly beaten

turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add your apples to the pan. Stir to coat the apples with butter and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. While the apples cook, whisk together the cinnamon, salt and ¾ cup sugar and then sprinkle this mixture over the apples, stirring to combine.

Lower your heat and continue to cook the apples until they start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Your house should smell amazing at this point.) Sprinkle the flour and tapioca (or corn) starch over the apples and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, add cider vinegar, stir and scrape apple mixture into a bowl and allow to cool completely. I made my filling one day ahead of time, stored it in the refrigerator and then brought it to room temperature the next day before placing it in the pie shell. 

To bake: 

Place a large baking sheet on the middle rack of oven and preheat to 425° F / 220° C. Take one disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 12 inches / 30cm in diameter. Fit this crust into a 9-inch pie dish, pressing down so there are no air bubbles. Crimp and form the edges of your pie with the overhanging dough and pop pie shell in the freezer for about 5-10 mins. Take the pie out of the freezer and fill with your cooled filling. Set aside.

Roll out the remaining dough (this is the top of the pie) on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 10 or 11 inches / 25 or 28cm in diameter. Cut this dough however you’d like (I chose to make a lattice) laying your design over the pie filling and pressing the edges of the top of your pie crust with the bottom of the pie crust with your fingers. Make sure your pie crust top has a way for steam to escape - so if it’s a solid top, cut a few slits in the top. 

Lightly brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Place pie in the oven, on the hot baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 375° F / 190° C. Cover pie with a loose tent of tin foil to prevent over-browning and continue to cook until the interior of the pie is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes more.

Allow the pie to cool for about 2 hours before cutting and serving. (If you can wait that long.)  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and a generous wedge of cheddar cheese.  

grass-fed dairy: has an uncannily higher amount of Omega-3 fatty acids opposed to cows that are fed corn + grains. Cows are not made to eat corn or grain, they're made to eat grass, which means you're actually getting the health benefits you need (and nature intended!) when you choose grass-fed dairy.  I talk a lot more about the awesome benefits of eating whole dairy, and avoiding "low fat or non fat dairy" here. 

This post was sponsored by Maple Hill Creamery, but all opinions are my own. Thank you friends, for supporting the sponsors that support Sweetish.co. xox

warm applesauce muffins with almond oat topping {vegan + gluten free}

I think it’s really funny that I thought I could get anything done with a newborn babe. Really funny. When pregnant I totally pictured myself baking and setting up our new home while Myles napped.

LOL. 

The kitchen sink very much reflects life at the moment: there are lots of little plastic bottles and tiny yellow lids piled high along with my breast pump “phonographs” (my brother saw those and said, "Oh these are so people can hear your breasts better right?" Yes, exactly.), bread crumb-filled plates and chocolate rimmed mugs. (I eat a lot of cold toast and lukewarm cocoa). 

I haven’t washed my hair in a week, I’m still wearing maternity leggings and it’s a good day if I get to eat anything before 1pm, take a shower or get more than 2 hours of sleep. 

There's no sense of routine yet but this week we’ve worked hard on trying to stretch out longer between feedings and it’s made us both cry. We dance a lot to the Avett Brothers and the Lumineers to stretch time. He seems to really like the song “I and Love and You" and “The Candidate”. I can’t help but smile and shake my head at the sight of me dancing with a cozy, burrito-wrapped baby - my messy hair, naked face and a spit-up stained baggy shirt that hides my chubby tummy. These are the parts of life no one talks about, but they’re the best parts I think.

I didn’t realize that having a new babe would mean you cry a lot, sometimes out of sheer exhaustion or because you have no idea what to do and he won't stop crying, but mostly because you didn't know it was possible to love a tiny human you barely even know, so much. 

I also didn’t realize those first few weeks, you pretty much never eat - let alone get to eat anything WARM. If I have another granola bar it will be too soon. When my mom stayed with me she made me warm scrambled eggs for breakfast and hot pasta for dinner and it was heaven. 

I could really use a good warm muffin right now … so here you go, warm applesauce muffins for you. Yes, they’re vegan and gluten free but don’t tell anyone. Sometimes people frown at that and automatically write them off as “un-delicious” ;) but I assure you, these are worth making. Come over and make them for me?

Love you friend. xo  

 

warm applesauce muffins with almond oat topping {vegan + gluten free}

makes about 12 regular-sized muffins 

This was the last thing I officially baked before Myles came into the world. :) 

bakers note: The flavor of buckwheat flour and apples are a match made in heaven, but sometimes the buckwheat flour alone can be a little strong, so I've mixed it with other gluten-free flours to soften it up.  Also homemade applesauce makes these muffs completely amazing, but I wouldn't be discouraged if you're using store bought applesauce - just buy the best quality you can afford and add a pinch of cinnamon, orange and lemon zest to it. xo 

3 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

½ cup / 64g all purpose gluten free flour (I like Bob's.) 

½ cup / 83g brown rice flour 

½ cup / 60g buckwheat flour 

½ teaspoon salt 

¼ cup / 21g whole rolled oats

1 ½ cups / 382g applesauce 

½ cup / 105g coconut oil, melted and cooled

¼ cup / 85g maple syrup

½ cup / 110g brown sugar 

 

Topping: 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until almonds and oats are evenly coated. Set aside.

⅓ cup / 35g sliced almonds 

¼ cup / 21g rolled oats

Pinch of kosher salt 

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup  

 

Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Line regular size muffin tin with liners and set aside. 

Measure and whisk together all dry ingredients in a bowl (flours, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, rolled oats). Set aside. 

In an electric mixer, stir applesauce, brown sugar and maple syrup all together. Next add your dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 

Slowly add in your cooled, but melted coconut oil and stir on low until just combined.

Scoop batter in prepared muffin tin and top with oat + almond mixture. Be generous with the topping. 

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Serve warm. They'll keep for a couple of days, wrapped up tight and stored in the fridge. 

 Did you know? When baked, buckwheat flour makes baked goods look chocolatey, but it doesn't taste chocolatey at all! How's that for a trick-or-treat? 

meet our Myles

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. From the time I played house with my younger brothers to the time I was deciding on a college major; I’ve always felt my whole life has revolved around this one hope: that I wanted to be a mom someday. 

And now it’s real. 

Now I’m a mom. 

As soon as the doctor delivered Myles into my arms set him on my chest at the wee hours of the morning, it felt real... and completely surreal at the same time.

To me, birth is a juxtaposition of things. It’s beautiful and ugly. It’s quiet and loud. It’s funny and sacred. It’s incredibly slow and incredibly fast. It’s expected and completely unexpected.

It started out completely unexpected when I went into the hospital for a routine heart monitor check. Something doctors do when you’re pregnant past your due date just to make sure everything is still okay in there. 

I was grumbly about this extra visit to the hospital. It seemed superfluous. Especially since this routine check-up was just days before my induction date. Time was more precious than usual for me and this visit just seemed to waste some of it.

I’d been sitting in a reclined chair with heart monitors strapped to my tummy for over an hour when the nurse came back in and showed me a dip in my charts. 

“See that?” She said, “That’s a contraction. You’re going to have a baby.”

I stared in disbelief and said, “Like, right now?!” 

And she said, “Yes. I’ve been talking to a doctor down in labor and delivery and we’d like to admit you now and not have you wait any longer to have this baby.” 

I almost burst into tears but instead I just sat there in the chair for a second digesting what was about to happen.

And then I called John, “Don’t panic but we’re going to have a baby right now.” John laughed in disbelief and showed up in a jiffy with our hospital bag, camera and snacks. I don’t think I’d ever been more happy to see him. 

My labor was over 36 hours and I pushed longer than any other birth story I’ve ever heard. So friend, if you’ve had to push a long time during your first birth, I feel you. 

Giving birth is such a personal thing. To me, there are fewer things that bring you closer to your husband or God than bringing a life into this world. I’ve never felt so strong, humbled, loved or felt I had so much purpose than after bringing this little babe into the world. I never felt so indebted to John or the incredible nurses and doctor surrounding me. I never appreciated purple popsicles, or sugar-packed sprite with cranberry juice, epidurals or the words “Breathe! Push! You’re doing amazing!" and "He’s almost here Robyn, He’s almost here!", more. 

After hours of labor and while we were waiting for contractions to speed up so I could push more, the doctors bugged me and John about what our new son would be called. “Come on guys, it’s time to decide!” We told them our top three names and told them Myles was probably our favorite. The nurses started cheering for Myles to come on out and I swear after hours and hours of pushing, he finally came when we called him by name. I’ve never loved the sound of a tiny cry more. 

A few hours after Myles was born I turned to John with tears streaming down my face (hormones) and said, “I just love him so much. Let’s have another one.” And John laughed out loud and said, “I’m putting this on record. I think you may be the only woman in the world who wants to have another child so quickly after birth.” 

But it made sense to me because like I've told you, I’ve always wanted to be a mom. ;)

Love you friends. Thank you for being patient with me as I settle into this new role. I see why new moms don’t cook and praise the Lord when they can finally take a shower. I get it. I finally get it. This new life is wonderful and exhausting and I’m trying to soak up every beautiful, messy minute of it, but I promise, there’s more to come. xo  

a homecoming {and dang good apple sauce}

Easy and incredibly versatile, homemade applesauce might be the one thing you never want to buy from the store again. 

Easy and incredibly versatile, homemade applesauce might be the one thing you never want to buy from the store again. 

When you haven’t seen someone you love in a year and a half you think and hope that things will just pick up right where you left them. Especially when that someone you haven’t seen in forever is your sister. 

For a quick catch up, my sister served a mission for our church for the past year and half in Peru. She was mostly in a city in the mountains, speaking Spanish and helping people. (You can read more about it all on some other blog posts here and here.) 

Then two weeks ago, she finally came home, past midnight into a crowded dirty airport in Los Angeles into the arms of a very pregnant sister and some other very eager, elated family members. 

She’s since commented on things I take for granted. Like the organization of paved street roads, flushable toilet paper, hot showers and simple pleasures like eating strawberries or an apple. She couldn’t eat any fresh produce or drink any water that wasn’t bottled in Peru.  For the record, if I had to live like that, I think I would die. 

Food is my favorite love language and I wanted to surprise my sister with something special but familiar when she came home - warm chocolate chip cookies seemed right. I was afraid that she might not be interested in them after eating a certain way for the past year and a half (a diet of basically potatoes, rice and chicken), but upon seeing the cookies she dug in and said, “So GOOD!” after her first bite.

We ate cookies talked until 4am with the fam. We made each other laugh out loud a handful of times - sometimes so hard we teared. She’s brave and strong, and hearing more about everything she’s done and gone through made me muster up a little more courage to birth this child.

“I can’t wait to meet this boy!” She said as she rubbed my belly and rested her head on my shoulder. It was then that I realized that even after all this time, nothing’s really changed. Time has definitely passed, but nothing's changed. Sisters are like that I guess. 

Love you friends. xo  

dang good apple sauce 

inspired by ina garten

 

makes about 4ish cups

This recipe has nothing to do with my sister coming home from Peru other than the fact that I now look at an apple and feel much more grateful that I can just eat it. Homemade applesauce is a super easy and worth-while cold pantry staple. This is my favorite take on the stuff. I love it plain, warm with a drizzle of cream for dessert, for breakfast on top of my oatmeal or used in baked goods. It goes quickly.

note: Don't stress too much about measurements here. This recipe is pretty hard to ruin. ;) xo 

 

3 large fuji apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced 

3 large granny smith apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced 

zest and juice of 1 orange 

zest and juice of 1 lemon 

2 teaspoons cinnamon 

3 tablespoons of butter, optional

¼ cup / 50g brown sugar 

 

Preheat oven to  350°F / 180° C. 

Cut and peel apples, reserving about 1 cup of the apple peels.  

Stir all ingredients together in at least a 2.75 quart dutch oven pot and bake at 350°F for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes. 

After the first hour of baking, take the pot out, stir it and add your cup of apple peels. Don't mix the apple peels in, just leave them clumped together in one spot amongst your apples so they're easy to fish out. Bake for another 30 mins. 

Let the apple sauce stand for about 10 minutes before fishing out the apple peels.  Take out peels, and mush it all together with a large spoon - I like my sauce chunky so I end it here, but if you'd like it store-bought smooth, put it into a blender. 

Keeps in a tightly sealed container, in the fridge for a little over a week. 

Apple sauce with oatmeal. 

Apple sauce with oatmeal. 

my favorite i'm too tired to really cook dinner OR how to make the best boxed mac and cheese

A few simple tricks can take your mac and cheese from bland to grand. 

A few simple tricks can take your mac and cheese from bland to grand. 

Since it’s back to school time for you and about time to pop out a baby for me (hello 39 weeks!), I thought we would all appreciate a quick from-a-box dinner idea and how to make it better-than-you-thought-it-could-be-GOOD. Behold, boxed macaroni and cheese.

(ps. I debated on whether or not to blog about this because I mean... it's food from a box BUT, this is real life.) 

Please let it be known that I am not above boxed macaroni and cheese, (I hope you're not either) but I am particularly picky about which brand or box I use AND I always gussy it up a bit. I’ve learned that with a few simple tweaks this simple dinner can be amaze - I've been making it this way for years now and I've never looked back. 

Quick mac-hacks (hehe) for better boxed mac and cheese: 

1. Buy the organic box. I know, I know, my loved ones give me a hard time about my slight obsession with organic stuff but it makes all the difference. Organic boxed mac and cheese is WAY better (and better for you) and only a few dollars more than other non-organic brands. Organic mac and cheese has a smaller ingredient list, non-gmo and is made with higher quality cheese and pasta. (I like the Whole Foods or Annie's Organic brand.) 

2. Under cook your pasta just slightly and salt your water with a couple pinches of salt. The pasta is going to continue to cook in the heat of the cheese sauce and I find that a slightly underdone mac noodle makes for perfect mac and cheese. So don’t cook the pasta as long as the box calls for - stop cooking it just a few minutes less. Strain it and leave it in the strainer until you make your cheese sauce. Do not rinse the pasta. 

The how: 

3. For the sauce:

In the same pot that you cooked and set aside your pasta: melt your butter until bubbly and then whisk in the powdered cheese packet creating a roux. Then slowly whisk in just a little bit more than the amount of milk the box calls for. Whisk until creamy and combined. This will make for a wonderfully lump-free cheese sauce. 

4. *My secret tip that makes people go cray*: 

Add about 2 ounces of sharp organic cheddar cheese (about 2 slices of "pre-sliced sandwich" cheese) to the cheese sauce and whisk until melted. Add some more splashes of milk to the mixture as you whisk - you want it thick, but still saucy. Don’t stress about exactness. It’s mac and cheese. Add as much milk as you need to make it a thick-saucy consistency. 

5. Pour the hot pasta into the sauce and fold in with a big spoon/spatula to coat each noodle. 

I’m an adult aren’t I?:  

6. So, I should probably eat some veg? I always cook down several huge handfuls of fresh greens with a little olive oil, garlic and lemon and add it to my mac and cheese. Arugula, spinach and baby kale are some favorites. Just heat your skillet over a medium-high heat and add your olive oil and greens. (It should look and feel like a LOT of greens - don’t worry it will all cook down.) After greens have been cooking for 2 or so minutes add your fresh garlic (I use about 1 clove of minced garlic to about 4-5 handfuls of greens). Toss, and continue to heat through for a few more minutes or until greens are wilted. Top with a fresh squeeze of lemon.

I stir the greens in with the prepared mac and cheese. It makes it more of an adult meal (or sneaky way to get your littles to eat spinach?!) and John and I love it. The greens help me feel like I’m not completely negligent in our veggie intake. I have to say my heart skips a beat when I come home from a long day to find out John's making me this for dinner.... and I have a feeling it's going to resurface quite a bit once this babe comes. 

Love you friends. xo  

the best banana pancakes in the world {and they're made with kefir!}

My hunger seems to be unquenchable these last few weeks of pregnancy.

Thank you powers that be.

The last thing I want is to be even bigger than I already am, but I know I am growing a babe, thus I must grow slightly too, so, I shouldn’t complain... but I find myself reaching for a midnight bowl of cereal or eating every 2-3 hours and yes I’ll have that bowl of ice cream, sure! Babies make you hungry. 

Speaking of babies, school is back in session. That has nothing to do with my hunger levels other than that seeing all these eager school kids rush to class in the morning with their backpacks hanging on for dear life reminds me of my breakfasts before school.

Mom was good at breakfast. And she didn’t just make sure we had something to eat before school, but something we would actually look FORWARD to eating before school. She was good at quick and easy - like toast with peanut butter and jam, chocolate protein shakes and scrambled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese wrapped up in a tortilla…  

I find myself trying to do the same with John and feeding him before work, because if it’s not quick and good, he won’t eat in the morning. Hence these granola bars, smoothies, breakfast cookies and now these banana pancakes. (By the way have you downloaded the lil' breakfast ebook yet?

These pancakes are made with Kefir instead of your typical buttermilk, milk or yogurt, and they are the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious pancakes in the world. And so simple.

I hope you love these as much as I do because I need someone to tell me that eating 7 in a row is really easy to do and no big deal. 

Love you friends. xo  

the best banana pancakes in the world {made with kefir}

adapted from Jennifer Segal

I made these on the weekend with my dad and brother around and I can tell you, they disappeared in less than 5 minutes. So if you're feeding men and dare hope for any left overs,  I recommend at least doubling this recipe. They're that crazy good. 

note: You don't have to use super ripe bananas here. Just nice yellow bananas will do. Also, if you don't have Kefir, thick, tart yogurt or buttermilk will work... but Maple Hill Creamery Kefir is SO incredible and worth it if you can find it. (psst, you can go to their store locator on their site to see where you can buy their stuff.) Kefir seriously takes these pancakes to a whole new level of greatness.  

 

1 ½ cups / 183g all purpose flour, preferably organic

2 tablespoons sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 large - medium sized banana, smashed 

1 cup + 2 tablespoons / 270ml Maple Hill Creamery Vanilla Kefir (see note above)

2 large eggs, preferably organic 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

butter, (salted or unsalted) for cooking and serving with your pancakes

real maple syrup, to serve 

 

Mix all dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking powder and salt) together in a medium sized bowl and set aside. 

Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly. 

In a separate bowl, mix eggs, Kefir and vanilla together. Add melted butter and mix.

Add your Kefir mixture to your dry mixture whisking all together until combined. 

Mash bananas in a separate bowl and fold them into your pancake batter with a spatula.  

Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle or any other pan of your choice on medium heat, melting about 1 tablespoon of butter. (For me, this is enough butter for the whole batch of pancakes - but you know your skillet best so grease accordingly.) 

Using a ¼ measuring cup, scoop out prepared pancake batter forming little circles on the griddle. When little cakes are bubbling, it's time to flip. Remember that once you flip, the other side cooks much faster - for about 1 minute. Repeat the process until you run out of batter.

note: This batter also works beautifully if you want to save it in the fridge covered, overnight and make them fresh the next morning. 

Serve pancakes warm with maple syrup and butter.

for breakfast on the go: 

If you plan on eating these pancakes as a quick, grab-and-go breakfast throughout the week, refriferate them and put them in little zip lock bags or plastic wrap, separating each pancake with parchment or wax paper to prevent sticking. Pop these bad boys in the toaster and serve with syrup, jam, raw honey or nut butter. xo

what the heck is Kefir? and why is it good for me?

Kefir is a probiotic drink that's incredibly good for your gut and incredibly delicious. It contains beneficial bacteria that help clean our digestive systems. I am in love with Maple Hill Creamery's Vanilla Kefir all on it's own because it's made from completely grass-fed dairy, clean and not too sweet. Like seriously, I love it and like I said before, it takes these pancakes to a whole new level of greatness. Please try it, I think you'll agree. xo

This post was sponsored by Maple Hill Creamery, but all opinions are my own. Thank you friends, for supporting the sponsors that support Sweetish.co. xox

why tomato jam should be your jam

I am wondering at what point this all starts to feel real. This moving thing. We packed up almost everything we own a few weekends ago into a truck and drove it across 3 states and unloaded it into a really cute little home with wood floors and lots of windows, in the state of Utah. I'm still getting used to saying it all now and still refer to California as "back at home." 

If you’re thinking about moving, let me tell you, DON’T. It's uncomfortable and expensive. And then, if you slap moving out of state and being pregnant on top of it and it’s like, whoa! NEVER MIND. 

I mean, there’s nesting before a baby comes and then there’s “I’ve just moved and have a baby due in a few weeks nesting” and one is like a puddle compared to an ocean. I very much feel like I'm in the middle of the ocean. It’s been….fun. 

John and I were sitting on the steps of our new Utah home the other day, (taking a break from painting / moving / unpacking) when he said, “It doesn’t feel real yet. You know, that we’ve moved and that this is our home.” 

“I was just gonna say that!” I laughed. 

 

I had my last ultrasound recently and the nurse laughed and pointed out how chubby our babe’s cheeks are. “Do you see that?" She pointed to a little profile view of our babe - she pointed to what looked like a little hill. "Those are CHEEKS! Oh PLEASE bring him in once he’s born," she laughed, "I HAVE to see those cheeks in person.” 

Looks like baby boy has his mom’s cheeks and knowing that made me think of how John and I are adding to our team soon and how excited I am to bring him home into his completely unfinished room and mess of a house and show him around. For some reason, thinking about that, made it all feel a little more real. 

Love you friends. xo  

Huckleberry's Tomato Jam

adapted from Huckleberry

With all of this moving, heat and swollen feet, sandwiches are a real deal dinner option at the moment - and making this jam is about as much effort as I am willing to go to make dinner special right now. 

Tomato jam sandwiches may seem a little strange to you - but let me tell you, they're stinking fantastic. The jam is so easy to make, it basically requires cutting up fresh tomatoes and stewing them over a stovetop for a few hours until it gets thick and delicious. This stuff keeps for up to a month sealed in a good jar and it's perfect on thick french bread with a drizzle of olive oil and goat cheese, used on a BLT, turkey club or soft scrabbled egg toast. Mix it with some good quality mayonnaise, chopped basil and fresh garlic to make an incredible aioli. Seriously, experiment with it. It's tangy and sweet and goes with just about any cheese, veggie or protein - your sandwiches will never be the same! 

 

2lbs / 900g fresh heirloom tomatoes (see how to pick out the best tomatoes here.) 

1 ½ cups / 270g cherry tomatoes (I got little baby cherry heirlooms) 

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chili flakes, optional (I didn't add this because #heartburnduringpregnancyisreal)

 

Put all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and cover with a little bit of water - should look like ½ inch (12mm) and you should barely see the water underneath all those tomatoes. 

Simmer over medium heat for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. The water should be completely gone and cooked away. Your tomatoes should be a thick almost paste-like consistency. (See pics above for a reference.) You can put all your tomatoes in a blender, food processor or use a handheld blender - anyway you swing it - blend the tomato mixture together forming a smooth-ish paste. Now you have jam!

Store jam in a very clean, air-tight, sealable jar (I love weck jars).  It should keep for at least two weeks. Mine kept for a month. xo

the best frozen hot chocolate

This is so easy and SO good, it may take over as your new favorite (chocolate) indulgence. :) 

This is so easy and SO good, it may take over as your new favorite (chocolate) indulgence. :) 

The boy (who didn't look a day over 18) at the Trader Joe’s check out line asked me if I had any big remaining summer plans. Bless him. 

I pointed to my belly. “I’m having a baby!” I said smiling. 

“Boy or girl?” 

“Boy.” I said. 

“Awesome. Do you have a name picked out?” He asked. 

“Boy names are tough,"  I said. "We’re still deciding.” 

“Oh really?! I already have my future first son’s name picked out.” He said the full name with a huge smile and it made me happy. 

“That’s awesome! Good for you!" I said, “You’ll be totally prepared when you’re a dad someday! Although I have to say it’s a little harder when it gets real. I feel like there is a lot of pressure to name a little human, especially a boy. It has to be a good, strong name you know?” 

“Yeah, I can see that.” He nodded. He loaded my bags in the grocery cart and as he sent me on my way said, “Well, good luck having a baby!” 

He said it so nonchalantly that it made me laugh out loud. It’s like I was going on a trip to Hawaii or something. Aloha! Have a good time!

By the way I was at Trader Joe’s buying a current real craving of mine right now: Coffee ice cream; and this frozen hot chocolate, is one of my favorite ways to eat coffee ice cream… I seriously can’t get enough. I blame the baby. Hopefully you can't get enough of it either. You can blame me. 

Love you friends. xo

p.s! I have the privilege of being a part of this year's #drinkthesummer series from the beautiful With Food and Love.

(All the confetti  🎉 and heart eye 😍  emojis!) 

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see some other super delicious summery drink-link ideas.

p.p.s I think I might have been the only one who went chocolate with this one (you're not surprised, right?) There's some pretty incredible bloggers + bevies on this list - Check it out friends, it'll inspire and make you thirsty. ;) Cheers to you. xo 

the best frozen hot chocolate 

serves 2-4 generously 

I had my first frozen hot chocolate years ago at New York's Serendipity cafe in the middle of summer at 17. From that day on, I was hooked and have been experimenting with different ways to make the heavenly drink. Frozen hot chocolate is much lighter than a chocolate shake, which is why I love it - It goes down easy you know? And keeps you cool, and totally satisfies your chocolate (er, or in this case chocolate + coffee ice cream) craving. Pregnant or not, it's the perfect summer indulgence bevie if you ask me. (ps. bevie means beverage.) ;) 

note: Add more ice cream if you'd like to make it richer. There are no rules here. 

 

1 cup / 160g dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate chopped (at least 60% cocoa content or higher)

¼ cup / 60ml whole milk, hot

2 cups / 480ml whole milk, cold

3 cups / 420g ice

1 ½ cups / 216g high quality ice cream, (either coffee, chocolate or vanilla. John loves vanilla, I love coffee or chocolate.) 

mini chocolate chips to top, optional

 

for the whipped cream:

In an electric mixer with your whisk attachment, beat cream, sugar and vanilla together until very stiff peaks form. I like the whipped cream a tinge "over done" here so the texture is really thick and lush. You don't want lumps, just stiff peaks. 

½ cup / 120ml heavy or whipping cream 

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla 

 

Heat up ¼ cup whole milk over the stove top until it barely reaches a simmer. Put chopped dark chocolate in a small bowl and pour the scalding milk over it. Let it sit for 2 minutes. Then gently stir to mix + melt the chocolate. Mixture should be thick. Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. 

Whisk melted chocolate mixture with 2 cups cold milk until combined. This is the "hot chocolate" part. You can just drink it at this point if you want because congratulations! You just made the best chocolate milk ever! 

Put 3 cups of ice, chocolate milk mixture and ice cream in a blender and blend until smooth. Mixture should be thick and shake-like. Pour into glasses and serve with whipped cream. It's messy and heavenly. 

The Drink Links:

NOT BOOZY!
Heartbeet Kitchen | Salty Watermelon Shrub Elixir
TENDING the TABLE | Raspberry + Fig Hibiscus Cooler
Snixy Kitchen | Lavender Earl Gray Blackberry Ice Cream Floats
The Bojon Gourmet | Vanilla Rooibos Peach Ice Cream Floats
Gratitude and Greens | Hong Kong Style Crushed Watermelon Ice
My Heart Beets | Spiced Pistachio Shake
rooting the sun | Strawberry Fennel Soda
The Modern Proper | Vanilla Plum Shrub
Feed Me Phoebe | Watermelon-Cucumber Kombucha Coolers
Gourmande in the Kitchen | Stone Fruit Thyme Shrub Soda
dolly and oatmeal | Cold-Brewed Shiso + Hibiscus Tea Iced Latte
happy hearted kitchen | Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Fennel Orange + Cardamom
I am a Food Blog | Cherry Vanilla Sodas
Tasty Yummies | Fig Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Let’s talk evergreen | Iced Earl Grey Yuanyang With a Hint of Rose
Kale & Caramel | Emerald Beaut Green Spritzer
Earthy Feast | Watermelon Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Now, Forager | Sparkling Plumcot + Purple Basil Shrubs
The Pig & Quill | Brown Sugar Blueberry Pie Shakes
Well and Full | Peach Bubble Tea
Sweetish Co | The Best Frozen Hot Chocolate
holly & flora | Spiced Pineapple Shrub Sparklers with Black Tea + Coconut
Pure Ella | Fresh Mint Tea

 

BOOZY!

With Food and Love | Basil Fig Vodka Smash
A Little Saffron | Beach Bum’s Rum
A Thought For Food | Tarragon Tequlia Swizzle
Downshiftology | Limoncello Prosecco with Blueberries and Thyme
Heart of a Baker | Green Tea Mint Cooler
Hungry Girl por Vida | Whisky Peach Alexander
The Green Life | Spiced Plum Fig + Kombucha Cocktail
Hummingbird High | Watermelon + Mint Agua Fresca
Floating Kitchen | Peach Sun Tea + Bourbon Cocktail
Beard and Bonnet | Easy Melon Mojitos
EGD | Backyard Peach Sweet Tea
Appeasing a Food Geek | Basil + Black Pepper Gin Sour
Vegetarian Ventures | Garden Tonic Punch
Nosh and Nourish | Mango Margaritas with Chile Lime Salted Rims
Domesticate ME! | Watermelon-Basil Mezcal Margarita
The Foodie Nurse | Husk Cherry Margarita
my name is yeh | Choose Your Own Adventure Bloody Marys
Sevengrams | Cucumber Gin + Chartreuse Cocktail
Wicked Spatula | Coconut Gin + Tonic
Eat Boutique | Sbagliatos + Homemade Sweet Vermouth
Nutritionist in the Kitch | Healthy Muddled Blackberry Piña Coladas
Chocolate + Marrow | Pequito Verdecito
The Solstice Table | Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler
HonestlyYUM | Watermelon Fresh Herbs + Sotol Cocktail
Seasonal Cravings | Strawberry Lime Gin Rickey
Salted Plains | Frozen Honeydew Daiquiris
The Broken Bread | Honeydew-Ginger Apricot Mojitos
Fix Feast Flair | Ginger-Berry Splash Cocktail
Turntable Kitchen | Summer Cooler Cocktails, Two Ways
Foolproof Living | Blueberry Dark Cherry + Calvados Cocktail
Dessert for Two | Salty Melon Slush
The Wood and Spoon | Honey Basil Margaritas
Milly’s Kitchen | Golden Watermelon Ginger Basil + Tequilla

 

 

how to pick the best heirloom tomatoes

how to pick the best heirloom tomatoes so you don't go home with a sad rotten beauty ever again. 

how to pick the best heirloom tomatoes so you don't go home with a sad rotten beauty ever again. 

We're in the middle of moving into our new Utah home, unpacking boxes and painting over dark maroon, grey and green walls the most beautiful shade of white. We've used gallons of primer, bandaids and for me: ice packs on the back to make it all happen. It's been slightly hellish - and John and I feel we've bitten off way more than we can chew, but we're gettin' it done. I have so much more to tell you, but it will have to wait until next post.  

Right now I'm dying to tell you how to pick the best heirloom tomatoes since tomato season is upon us and I want you to go crazy with your fresh tomato + olive oil + sea salt toast over the next few weeks. I swear I look forward to summer produce the most because of fresh tomatoes (okay, and peaches:), I mean, you can just cut a tomato, sprinkle it with salt and you have the best snack ever. Amen, right? 

how to pick the best heirloom tomatoes: 

1. Try to buy your tomatoes from your best local sources, like a farmer's stand on the corner, farmer's markets and small grocers that sell local produce. I promise you'll get fresher tomatoes and they're worth every penny. Famers markets / farm stands usually have specials too - like my local farmer's stand had a "buy 2 pounds get two pounds free deal recently." It was heaven. 

2. Pick up each tomato and inspect it before purchasing it. Turn it over and check to make sure that they're are no "finger squeeze" bruises or signs of rotting, or mushy spots. 

3. Pick a tomato that feels heavy, but the skin is still tight and firm. These slightly firm tomatoes can sometimes be just slightly underripe, but they'll ripen in a day or two and be perfection. 

4. When purchasing your tomatoes, I like to put them in a clean, soft-towel lined tote bag, layering bits of the towel in between each tomato. I know, sounds excessive, but this prevents the to'maters from bruising. Bruising leads to fast rotting, so, it's worth it to me to be weird. 

 

but how do I know when it's ripe? 

1. To know when a tomato is perfectly ripe, it should still have a tight skin, but have the slightest "give" if you press ever so gently into the skin. I can recognize a ripe tomato now just by looking at it - but if you're unsure, use this test. Just don't press hard or else you'll bruise your gem.

 

how do I store my tomatoes and make them last? 

1.  If you notice you have too many ripe tomatoes on your counter to eat, I like to store mine gently wrapped in a clean, dry towel in a drawer in the fridge. I do think room temperature tomatoes have more flavor, but it's such a sad thing to waste those precious beauties due to heat, so once they're perfectly ripe and ready - I do store mine in the fridge for just a bit. 

2. If you cut your heirloom beaut and can't eat it all, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. It will last you another day or so.

crazy tip: 

Crazy tip! Did you know that if you store anything next to a tomato it will ripen faster?! Like a banana or avocado. So if you're looking to ripen those bad boys sooner, put them next to a tomato! ;) 

More on what to make with these beauties next week. Love you friends. xo  

(ps. Are you on instagram? Totally thought I would hate instagram stories, but I love them. Find me on there @sweetish.co to see more behind the scenes stuff (like painting, PB and J sandwiches and boxes! haha)